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A successful marriage in ten moves. True or False?

Here are my ten most important moves for a successful marriage. I have had some fun collecting thoughts and confessions from friends throughout the years and surprisingly, some of the false you will find down here once used to be my biggest truths…

Number one: you can’t change your partner, so stop trying. TRUE

It is probably thanks to your differences that you ended up together, only with time (and kids maybe?) you will naturally develop a very dark desire to change who your partner truly is. It usually starts with a series of blaming exercises like “why can’t you be more like me?”. This thing here is called Utopia and in order not to fall in the trap, you need to stay away from the temptation to focus on the differences.

Try to keep your eyes on the positives: if you keep reminding yourself the things that made you fall in love with your partner, you will be fine, even at challenging times.

Number two: just be yourself. FALSE

Hey hubbies and wifies out there! It is absolutely NOT because you can’t change who you are that you should just chill and not make any effort whatsoever to make your other half happy. Being yourself is not enough. Everyone knows that concessions and compromise are the keys to a long, healthy and successful marriage. Therefore, you can continue to be yourself, yes, as long as you also start making efforts to become an even better version of yourself.

Number three: love is all you need. FALSE

Unfortunately, love is not enough, no. We’d be taking another wild journey into the magic world of Utopia if we’d tell ourselves otherwise. Sometimes you need compassion, understanding, a good chat, a break, a funny night out. And sometimes, your friends (who have a life too in case you hadn’t noticed) cannot give you that. I think we can all agree that it’s fair to expect all of the above from your partner too.

Number four: happy self, happy couple. TRUE

For years, I have been lying to myself thinking I could only be happy in my relationship. Worse, I was so deeply convinced about my interpretation of happiness that I used to blame my husband who’s always been very real about putting his self happiness first.

It’s okay if your husband has a hobby (as long as that hobby is not a 20-year-old SHE), and you should have one too! If you want a successful marriage you should focus on nurturing your inner self and maintain a certain individual space, hobbies and friends, without necessarily sharing everything. As long as both of you are aligned on this one, you are safe and you will see that you can be even happier when you are together.

Number five: don’t say it, just prove it. FALSE

Honestly you guys! You think that just because you stick around that’s going to be enough? OK, that’s kind of THE thing to do, I give you that. But what about saying it out loud too?

For some people here, the spoken part is as important as the lived one. Do not underestimate the importance of the words you say (or do not say), and this applies to both the good things as well as the bad. Try for instance not to go to bed angry with your other half (which – I agree – can be a hell of a challenge when your hubby is already asleep ten straight seconds after he has touched the pillow). But you’ve got to try! And if there is anything you really wish to discuss, note it down and bring it up the next morning. Do not keep things in for too long, or they will start to beat you up from the in inside.

Number six: never forget you are a team. TRUE

In the good and the bad times, know what team you are on and play for that team, and that team only. Strategy can be discussed, argued and changed, but when you play out of home you can’t play solo! This is even more powerful when you have kids. Those little humans can smell fear from kilometers, so stay united team parents!

And you, husbands out there: when you get home after we’ve been having the kids all afternoon (and by all afternoon I mean two very long hours between after-school and dinner time, which feel way longer than the whole Star Wars saga), do not criticize our educational choices the moment you get back home, cause you were not there!

Number seven: share the pain, share the gain. TRUE

Apparently, the ideal job is made by 70% of tasks representing your talents. Therefore, at home, if you are more talented for taking care of the kids cause you have patience – and your other half can barely handle two series of “and why is that mommy? why??” before feeling like burning the whole place down -, then you handle the kids. But each has to find a talent and lead with it (everyone has a talent, do not dare to say you don’t!).

Number eight: no secret garden. FALSE

I cannot believe there are still couples out there that think it’s good not to have any secrets. Come on, let’s be serious for a second here. Do you truly believe your loved one tells you EVERYTHING? I think that keeping small secrets from each other (and I cannot stress enough on the “small” here) is totally fine and helps keeping that little bit of mystery spark alive. It is fine not to share everything, with the exception of the important things of course.

Let’s say you should behave as you do in the workplace: take your liberties, pretend like you were in a very important meeting while you were actually on social all afternoon, but never sell your employer’s secrets to the competition.  

Number nine: don’t judge, be judged. TRUE

If you want a solid, successful marriage, you must have a sounding board throughout the journey. A fine selection of bad ass judges, who can review and criticize your couple inside out and without any filter, decency nor restraint whatsoever. Just like you were on The Voice. The secret here is to choose them right (so ensure you pick a devil’s advocate too, those can be of help every now and then).

Number ten: know your list and not his/hers. TRUE

Everyone has a list, even those who say they don’t. I’d say that up to five years into marriage, your partner will probably tell you there is only you on his/her list. However, with time you will get used to the fact that his list will be more and more crowded. And I think that’s fine, cause you have your list too, right? The golden rule for a long-lasting, successful marriage here is to only allow people like Jessica Alba and Leonardo DiCaprio. It is forbidden to fantasize on your partner’s best friends. And now, if you do not have a list (liar!), please go start one up.

Would you choose your partner everyday?

Let’s imagine for a second that you can choose a partner from a menu. Like you do at the restaurant really. Is your choice going to fall on the same dish everyday? Would you choose your partner everyday, again and again, even if you could really pick someone else instead?

Everyday pizza

My blog’s co-editor and friend A. has this theory, that someone would hardly choose to eat pizza everyday, when there’s full of other tasteful options on the menu.

He started hearing stories from friends, who have been in a serious relationship for many years (say 10+, mostly married). However, lately they felt the need to look for something else. Outside of their couple. This something else is mostly defined as sex, and I think we can fairly say that there’s no surprise in here. Keep in mind thought, that I still stand with those who are shocked about this being even just a remote possibility.

As you might have read on a previous post, I can barely share my food with my kids, imagine how I would react if my beloved husband was found having thoughts about looking for sex outside of our marriage!

Yes, but…

What has literally hit me like a bus is that, most of the times, their partners are aware and totally fine with that. And when they are not aware, it is justified as “yes but my first, serious and engaged relationship remains the most important and profound.

Basically, these people reckon that they find themselves attracted by other persons with whom they can just share moments. That’s it. They claim that they are not considering to split up from their partners.

As you can imagine, my first reaction to this story has been WTF! Followed by injuries in Italian and a heartfelt “this is crazy and f****** unacceptable!”. With time though, I am starting to think that my good friend A. might actually have a point.

Do women and men love in a different way?

Recklessness for a happy couple

Being married with kids takes a lot of work and it certainly means you must move away from recklessness. Which, in my experience, is something you do quite naturally and without much of an effort. However, it might not be the case for everyone. What if your other half misses that feeling of freedom that comes with not giving a fuck about danger or consequences? Should we consider inviting some recklessness back in our marriage, to keep our couple happy?

By now you guys know that hubby and I try to book time for ourselves every now and then. Just to have a proper meal without the routine screaming, rolling, running, falling, crying, spitting and burping soundtrack that usually accompanies them. It’s a brief moment of luxury that allows us to have an adult conversation. Or to simply finish a sentence without being interrupted, basically.

Happy couples

Last week, we went out for dinner and somehow the topic of the conversation started touching on relationships and couple goals. Particularly, on those couples, who’ve been together for many years (say 10 or more), and where one starts to see other people or to date other women or men. Just to experience something different – while still acknowledging that they maintain priority for their “main” relationship.

I was curious to hear what he thought about that. Personally, I am certainly against this kind of open relationship (come on let’s be serious, I can hardly share my food with people, what makes you think I would share my husband?!).

His take on this was twofold: first of all, he admitted his admiration for those who are capable of managing multiple love relationships, since – and I quote – “one is way too much work already”.

(Hang on a second, was this his way of telling me that I am annoying and too much to handle?!)

Then he added that, in his opinion, these people are moved by a quest for recklessness. Especially if they have not lived their single years to the fullest and have entered a serious relationship/marriage too soon.

Finally, he confessed that this “recklessness” is something he can see himself missing/wishing for at some point, too. Not because he hasn’t had enough fun hen he was younger (believe me, he has!). But more because when you are in an exclusive relationship like a marriage (with or without kids) you are expected to always be vigilant. To always be aware of and responsible for the consequences of your actions and words.

Truth hurts

WOW. So I should be reconsidering inviting recklessness back into my marriage for a happy couple. For a second, I damned myself for asking the question. I wished one of our kids was there to spill their glass of water, half-choke on a gigantic piece of bread or simply slip off their high chair. But then, I started to understand what he meant. And it does make sense.

Can you imagine how good it would feel to live one wild night like in “The Hangover”? Just to re-center on yourself and feel young and free again? If what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, I’d be happy to trade Valentine’s Day with a “Vegas Day”, where anything goes and recklessness has no consequences…


And you? What is your relationship with recklessness like? Tell us your story and we will publish it here! getintouch@thereallifeblog.com

Playing with fire

I am not really sure how to feel about playing with fire. Most importantly, about THE NEED of it. Is it a bad thing? Or a pretty normal and natural thing to feel? Do men feel the same?

I have been at a wedding recently and it was the very first time I was attending solo (i.e.: we could not bring the kids as the travel would have been a living hell for the whole family, so hubby sacrificed himself and decided to stay home with them. He is the best, I know).

Turns out, even though I had a wonderful time with some of my besties (imagine what it means for a working mom of two to have a whole weekend away from the country), and I am glad I could be part of such a lovely wedding where I met many nice people – I also found out that it is super sad to be part of such a joyful day when your other half is not with you.

The BOSS

The feeling of loneliness gets even worse when all around you are only happy couples (well, couples) and nice little kids who remind you of your beloved little monsters, and a bunch of sexy singles that you can’t do anything with cause even if you are alone, you really are NOT alone, sister!

I am sure the only part of the above that you have retained is the “bunch of sexy singles”. Good stuff guys, cause that’s the part I wanted to talk to you about.

I was not the only married mom who was attending solo and – guess what – I was also not the only one who had noticed the BOSS (aka: Bunch Of Sexy Singles). And apparently, we all somehow feel at some point the need of being desirable, the need of feeling flattered because the BOSS are checking you out, even if you perfectly know that’s as far as the interaction with them can go.

Do we really consider this playing with fire?

I am pretty sure this is super common and nothing to feel guilty about. Especially when you are a mom and you have just gone through a massive body change and it feels about right to know that “you still have it”. After all, we can all check out the menu even if we are not necessarily hungry, right? And let’s not be naive: we all do that anyways, not just moms and not just women. Even the most faithful of us (again, we are not talking about cheating here).

However, I reckon we are talking about that precise moment that may actually be just seconds before cheating, so I guess you understand the danger of the whole thing (imagine what could happen if you encounter the BOSS after you’ve gone pretty wild on the gin – see what I mean?). But then again – if it was not dangerous, would we enjoy it that much?

What’s super funny is that I am writing as if playing with fire was the most human and natural thing one can do, acknowledging without the smallest hint of guilt that I am the first to enjoy that. Still, I’m pretty sure I’d stab my husband in his most sensitive body parts if I’d catch him checking someone out…

And you? Have you ever played with fire? Tell us your story and we will publish it on here! getintouch@thereallifeblog.com